The reggae shuck and roll of a very pleasant take on Taj Mahalâ€™s â€œFurther On Down The Roadâ€ opens Eric Claptonâ€™s 21st solo album, Old Sock. The nearly samba-like â€œAngelâ€ follows seeing the first use of Claptonâ€™s clean electric with backing vocalists Michelle John and Sharon White (two women who kick ass throughout here) and J.J. Cale guesting on his own tune.
Yes, guests like Cale are in evidence, but the band Clapton has assembled for his 21st album are truly the best of the best: Steve Gadd (drums), Willie Weeks (bass), Chris Stainton (keys) and the aforementioned backing vocalists.
â€œGot Getta Over,â€ one of the two new Clapton tunes, chunks along at a good rockinâ€™ speed and again a goodly amount of Slowhandâ€™s decidedly not slow playing. I like this tune a lot, especially the jam at its tail end. And really, how can you loose with Chaka Khan joining in?
Clapton does his country bit on Hank Snow’s â€œBorn To Lose,â€ playing a neat dobro lead. Signature and delectable Gadd brushes on snare and Staintonâ€™s piano run under a string-heavy â€œStill Got The Blues.â€ Claptonâ€™s acoustic lead in the beginning (much better than his standard electric at the end) and Steve Winwoodâ€™s Hammond B3 are about the only pieces to make this interesting though.
â€œEvery Little Thingâ€ (a tune Clapton co-wrote) really starts out great in the verses, but rolls into a too-poppy reggae chorus, which undermines the songâ€™s power. But Ericâ€™ daughterâ€™s little-kid’s-cute-singing at the end is just unforgivable.
Old Sock is a mixed bag of mostly covers with some stand-outs and great playing as youâ€™d expect.